Numbers 10 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Numbers 10)
The silver trumpets

Chapter 10 speaks of the silver trumpets which served for calling the assembly of the people, and for the journeying of the camps, but which serve also for other purposes. It was the testimony of God, rendered publicly, with two chief ends in view; to gather the people, and to make them journey. It is so indeed, practically; the testimony of God gathers His people around Him, and makes them go forward. The testimony of God was the sign of His intervention, whilst, at the same time, its result was to produce it. The priests who, in communion with their head, were to be in the intimacy of the thoughts of God, sounded the trumpets when needed.

All was thus done according to communion with God in His sanctuary. After the people were brought into the land, if war arose, they sounded an alarm: they proclaimed the testimony of God, without being afraid, and God remembered His people and interfered. So with us, we need never fear the attack of the enemy; instead of being frightened, let us give a faithful testimony, in answer to which God has pledged Himself to come in in power. Let us not fear: in nothing terrified by our adversaries.

The trumpets were also used in the solemn feasts; for the testimony and the memorial of God constitute the joy of His gathered people. Thus the whole people in national unity and order, were assembled as the camp where God was, and were to march in like order. All was complete for the order of the people, and the service of Jehovah.

The order of the march: precedence of the ark

At length the people are called to take the first stage of their journey. The order followed in the march differs from that which had been prescribed, in this, that the tabernacle, with its curtains, went after the first three tribes, that it might be set up to receive the ark, which followed the second division. Still this was merely a detail in the arrangements, to have all ready when the ark arrived. But God appears in a remarkable manner in grace, outside the whole order He had prescribed; for it is the ark itself which precedes the whole camp. Moses had asked a child of the wilderness to be to them instead of eyes; but what man does not care to do, God takes upon Himself. He comes out of the place which He had taken in the midst of the tribes, to be taken care of, so to speak, and honoured there, and makes Himself, in some sort, their servant, seeking a place where they might rest in the trackless desert.

A place of rest in the wilderness

It was not in Canaan, but a place in the wilderness, where the Lord went a three days' journey to seek a rest for them. A beautiful picture of the tender and precious grace of Him who, if He makes us pass through the wilderness for our good, does not fail to be there with us, and who takes care, in putting out His sheep, to go before them, and to solace them with His love. Mighty leader of His people by the way, He is their joy and their glory when He comes to rest in their midst!

This closes the divinely instituted order of the camp and the grace that led them through the wilderness. Compare Psalm 132: 8, where God at the close of Israel's history (anticipating David) arises into His rest. Psalm 68 is God's intervention to establish the rest.